7 indoor pollutants that might be dirtying your home
Indoor air quality is an important health consideration in your home and can be a source of significant health problems for both adults and children. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) devotes substantial resources to educating the public about the importance of keeping the air quality as pure as possible in your home.
Understanding some of the most common culprits indoor air pollution will help you take measured steps to eliminate some of these top sources and begin upgrading your ventilation system to filter out these harmful particles before they threaten your health.
Check out our list of indoor air pollution examples below to start learning how to keep your indoor air quality as clean and healthy as possible.
Smoking indoors pollutes the air quality in both your home and car. While air purifiers can help remove some of the harmful toxins associated with indoor smoking, the only failsafe way to protect yourself and your family from that pollution is to avoid smoking inside.
2. Carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a particularly dangerous indoor air pollutant because it’s an odorless and tasteless poison, which means you need a monitoring device to tell if it is present at harmful levels in your home. The CDC recommends that one of the best ways to keep carbon monoxide levels in check is to have your heating, gas and oil appliances checked annually by a certified technician.
3. Nitrogen dioxide
Nitrogen dioxide is just as harmful as carbon monoxide and can also be produced by many heat-producing appliances like a stove. This gas appears reddish-brown and has a distinct smell.
4. Respirable particles
Respirable particles are not gases; they are small particles that can be inhaled just by breathing the air in your home. Without properly working air filters, you may be inhaling respirable particles from bits of wood burned in a fireplace or stove, particles from smoking indoors or particles from kerosene heaters. While the harmful symptoms of breathing in respirable particles may not be readily apparent, they can wreak havoc on your respiratory system over time, especially based on prolonged exposure as a child.
Formaldehyde has a pungent odor and exists as a gas at room temperature. It’s invisible, but upon breathing it in you may notice runny eyes, burning eyes, scratchy throat, coughing, chest pains, difficulty breathing and blurred vision.
One of the best ways to reduce the detectable levels of formaldehyde in your home is to minimize the humidity, especially during the summer in warmer temperatures. Air filters aren’t entirely effective at keeping detectable levels of formaldehyde in check, and if you receive a report of excessively high levels of formaldehyde in your home, you may have to have it professionally eradicated.
Pesticides are mostly used outside the home, but they can have dangerous effects on your respiratory system if they make their way indoors. If you choose to use pesticides on the exterior of your home, make sure that all windows are closed while you put them down.
You should also avoid applying any pesticides during periods of high wind because this can move the particles indoors through cracks around the window. Be sure that your air filters have been changed recently and are functioning properly to filter out as much of these harmful substances as possible.
Asbestos can remain invisible in the insulation of your home over time. Many older homes may have been built with insulation fibers that contain asbestos. While asbestos may not pose an immediate threat if it remains undisturbed, the movement of those fibers can lead to the inhalation of harmful cancer-causing fibers over time.
It’s recommended that you hire a professional for any home improvement work if you have an older home that may contain asbestos fibers. You also shouldn’t be present in the home while this work is being performed without the proper eye, nose and mouth protection.
The presence of any of these indoor air pollution sources in your home can be a cause for serious concern. Consider hiring a professional HVAC technician so that you can be sure that your indoor air quality is as clean and pure as it can be.
It’s also vitally important to keep tabs on your air filters so that your first line of defense against toxic gases and particles stays strong.